NEW YORK — Nelly’s nationwide scouting mission has begun.

The rap star showed up with VH1 cameras at Mony on Friday to choose a finalist to model in the campaign for his new women’s clothing line, Apple Bottoms. VH1 is planning a reality series based on Nelly’s search, “Inside Out: The Search for Miss Apple Bottoms,” scheduled to air tonight. Hundreds of girls lined 125th Street in Harlem hoping to be the chosen one before Nelly and the Apple Bottoms team went on to continue their six-city tour in Miami.

“I am looking for confidence and personality, as well as the physical,” Nelly said. “There’s a lot of sexy girls out there, so I am ready to get the ball rolling. I just hope we don’t disappoint anyone.”

Nelly, who has his hand in the fashion business already with Vokal, a men’s line, said the demand for a women’s line has been there for years.

“We just really wanted to take the time to get it right,” he said. “With men’s, it’s basically about three sizes, but with women’s clothes there is so much more.”

He said denim-based Apple Bottoms is created with a curvaceous woman in mind, but uses fabrics meant to fit women of all shapes and sizes.

“I know the guys like it when women wear tight clothes, but I want them to be comfortable, as well as sexy, in Apple Bottoms,” he said.

While the company plans to officially launch Apple Bottoms at the WWDMagic show next month, Leslie Ungar, president, said the line is being tested at select specialty stores.

“The demand was already there, so we really didn’t need to do a test,” she said. “It just helped to build the name.”

As reported, the winner of the Apple Bottoms model search will win a series of prizes, a spot in a Nelly music video and the chance to model alongside him in the ads, which will break in Vibe magazine. According to Ungar, Apple Bottoms is expected to bring in $16 million to $18 million in sales in the first year at retail.

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